We are back! After what felt like an eternity of an offseason with massive contracts, and familiar faces in new places, it’s time to talk NBA Draft! I already know I’ll be regretting my Ben Bentil tattoo from last year’s draft as I am bound to fall in love with one of these prospects in a very deep draft class.
Note: Draft order from tankathon.com on Friday, January 29th.
Markelle Fultz, G, Washington Huskies
What a terrible trade this was for Brooklyn. Last year Brooklyn could have had the third overall draft pick and now with the Celtics having the rights to swap 1st round draft picks in 2017, the Celtics are getting TWO top three draft picks in back to back years. Now last year I had the Celtics taking Jamal Murray, but they took Jaylen Brown. Brown has shown promise in his athleticism, but he is still very raw and far from a finished project. I have the Celtics going guard again this year, since there is no way they can pass up Markelle Fultz. He is the best player in this draft in my mind.
Yes, I know Boston has Isaiah Thomas who has been great for them, but 2017-2018 is the last year on Thomas’ contract, so you can have Fultz come off the bench in his first year and learn behind Thomas, and then Fultz can take over Bean Town in his second year. Also, don’t be shocked if this pick is swirled around in trade rumors as Boston is close to getting over that hump in the Eastern Conference.
2. Los Angeles Lakers
Lonzo Ball, G, UCLA Bruins
Los Angeles is not trying to tank per Luke Walton. They just suck. Maybe that is harsh for a young and promising team. With players like D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, and Larry Nance Jr., they still seem to be missing that one piece to tie the young core together. Enter the kid setting UCLA on fire in Lonzo Ball. A player who is receiving comparisons to Jason Kidd, Ball’s leadership as a point guard could tie this team together. I’ve been on the record saying the Lakers will be in the playoffs in two to three years, and I think drafting Ball helps that claim.
3. Phoenix Suns
Josh Jackson, F, Kansas Jayhawks
Familiar place here for the Phoenix Suns. Last year in the top 5, they took Marquese Chriss, who looked like the right selection. Chriss’ pluses coming out of the draft were his athleticism and strength, which he’s showed off in the NBA. We also saw him step beyond the 3-point line and shoot 31% from 3. He is coming along, far away from being finished, but so far so good. I also think the Phoenix Suns are fairly set for the future.
PG- Eric Bledsoe, who is locked up until 2020.
SG- Devin Booker, one of the best young scorers in the league
SF- T.J. Warren, who I’m a huge fan of in what he showed early in the season.
PF/C- Chriss/Bender, two guys you draft last year that have a lot of potential.
So where do you go? I look towards the SF postion. T.J. Warren is a slasher, and while I love T.J. Warren, injury concerns and consistency are worries. I look to a guy who is very similar to T.J., but with a higher ceiling in Josh Jackson. This could be a pick where you just wait until Jackson is ready to take the reigns from Warren and Warren could be great scoring off the bench for the Suns.
4. Dallas Mavericks
Dennis Smith, G, N.C. State Wolfpack
I’m falling for Dennis Smith. Maybe it was just seeing him throw down that dunk against Duke well after the game was over, but I feel he is going to be special.
His athleticism, improving 3-point shot, his passing ability, he just seems to be the next great NBA point guard. Pairing him up with arguably the NBA’s Most Improved Player in Harrison Barnes could make a great pair in Dallas.
5. Miami Heat
Malik Monk, G, Kentucky Wildcats
The perfect fit for the Miami Heat, in my mind, is Malik Monk. Monk’s natural ability to score is unmatched in this draft class. He does not have the explosiveness of Dennis Smith, the leadership of Lonzo Ball, the well rounded game of Fultz; Monk just scores. Adding Monk to Whiteside, Winslow, Richardson, and more could give Spoelstrea enough firepower to make the playoffs in the East.
6. Minnesota Timberwolves
Jonathan Issac, F, Florida State Seminoles
The Timberwolves need defense badly. Enter, Jonathan Issac, who will fit in perfectly at the 4 for the T-Wolves. Issac can guard the 3-5, and will give you some big twin towers down low with KAT. I think this pick makes a lot of sense and Issac is emerging as the best big man in this class.
7. Orlando Magic
Jayson Tatum, F, Duke Blue Devils
Oh the Magic… I told you ten mediocre staters would end in nothing for you, especially when none of them are scorers. Luckily for you, Jayson Tatum is still on the board. Currently averaging 16.5 PPG and shooting 84% from the free throw line, Tatum will use his big body to get to the bucket. Tatum could develop into something truly special for the Magic.
8. Philadelphia 76ers
De’Aaron Fox, G, Kentucky Wildcats
We have not seen what Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid can do on the court together, but if it is anything like what Embiid is doing solo, then watch out. The biggest thing the 76ers need is shooting, but the best shooter on the board is a forward which the 76ers do not need. De’Aaron Fox is not a shooter, but could be an incredible force off the bench This speedster could burn up NBA defenses while The Process and Ben rest on the bench. They could develop a nice 1-2 punch with Simmons-Embiid & Fox-Saric.
9. New Orleans Pelicans
Frank Ntilikina, G, France
Frank Ntilikina has not done much overseas, but this 18 year-old has a lot of potential. Given his tendency to dish first and already having a great shooter in Buddy Hield on the wing and some guy named Anthony Davis along side him, this might be the best spot for Ntilikina.
10. Sacramento Kings
Lauri Markkanen, F, Arizona Wildcats
I have been one to bash the Kings before. From the their management’s inability to surround Boogie with decent players, to constantly changing up the head coach, to just drafting poorly year in and year out. All the Kings need to do is take the best player available here and that is Lauri Markkanen. Markkanen will give the Kings two huge towers down low and two towers that can stretch the floor. Offensively, drafting Markkanen will take a lot of pressure off of Boogie and Markkanen can be a marksman from the outside.
Miles Bridges, F, Michigan State Spartans
My notes on Bridges just says athletic. This dude is BIG, seriously, I would mock him to the Patriots, because we are looking for a backup to Gronk. Pairing Bridges with KP could cause for some of the scariest pick-and-roll/pop combos in the NBA. Plus, Bridges is already rocking the Melo headband.
Harry Giles, F, Duke Blue Devils
Portland gets a gift here. Giles was a top player going into Draft season, but after missing time with injuries and those injury concerns flaring up, Giles has fallen. We have seen Giles be hesitant in his movement around the court, but if he can stay healthy, this might be the biggest steal. Portland also might stray away from Giles with their previous experiences with Brandon Roy and Greg Oden, but I think Giles could fit well with Portland’s current personnel.
13. Detroit Pistons
T.J. Leaf, F, UCLA Bruins
Is T.J. Leaf good or is UCLA good? Well the biggest knock on Leaf is his toughness and his defense. Luckily for him, if he goes to Detroit, he will be playing with Andre Drummond and won’t need to worry about that too much. Leaf’s ability to shoot would bring worlds of help to this Pistons team, that I was incredibly high on at the start of the season. Too bad they are not in Dennis Smith range…
14. Milwaukee Bucks
Bam Adebayo, F, Kentucky Wildcats
Dave Oster’s favorite player, ladies and gentlemen. Edrice “Bam” Adebayo will bring toughness down low for the Bucks which is what they need. We see the potential in Giannis and Jabari, we know what Khris Middleton can bring, Brogdon off the bench is perfect, but they just need toughness. Bam brings heart, toughness, and size which Greg Monroe has not done for the Bucks.
OG Anunoby, F, Indiana Hooisers
I know OG is out for the season, but if his injury is not incredibly serious, I can see someone taking him mid-lottery to early 20s. His athleticism is something to marvel at, and seeing his game develop from his freshman to sophomore year strengths his case. I don’t think Denver passes up the opportunity to take him here.
16. Chicago Bulls
Robert Williams, F, Texas A&M Aggies
The Bulls need toughness. Robert Williams gives me the feels of what Taj Gibson was to the Bulls when they were good. Not saying I would compare the two, but Williams’ intensity is similar. I think down low Williams could become what the Bulls wanted out of Bobby Portis. He can also work in transition in Hoiberg’s fast pace offense if Hoiberg sticks around.
17. Charlotte Hornets
Jarrett Allen, F, Texas Longhorns
I would not be shocked if Allen goes to the Bulls in the pick before. A player who can run the floor with size seems to fit the Hornets as well. The Hornets lack size and giving Kemba a player who can roll to the basket on Pick-and-Roll sets could be beneficial to Charlotte’s success.
18. Indiana Pacers
Terrance Ferguson, G, Australia
The Pacers need athleticism. They just seem so slow out there and adding a player like Ferguson could improve their tempo. Getting Monta Ellis out of Indy and adding Ferguson might actually give some credit to the pre-season hype the Pacers were getting.
19. Washington Wizards
Justin Patton, F, Creighton Jayhawks
Patton is moving higher and higher up boards, but right now sits at 19 for me. I like his size and athleticism that comes with it, but only averaging 6.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game for a 7’0″ is worrisome. If Patton adds strength and a big man mentality, he could pair great with Wall and Beal.
20. Denver Nuggets (via Grizzlies)
Tyler Lydon, G, Syracuse Orange
Nuggets draft a slasher earlier, so now you draft a shooter. I like Lydon, he can be a player who can stretch the floor and go 4-5 from beyond the arc or take it to the hoop and go to the line eight times in a game. Lydon can add depth to this young Nuggets team that seems to just be on the precipice being legit contenders.
Ivan Rabb, F, California Bears
Yikes. Someone should have come out last year. I have not seen many improvements from Rabb, and if I was drafting, I would avoid him. However, taking in other Mocks and last year’s hype around Rabb, I will keep him in my Mock. Rabb has more of the load on his back at Cal, but he just has not impressed. With Paul Millsap possibly on his way out, the Hawks might look for help down low.
22. Oklahoma City Thunder
Luke Kennard, G, Duke Blue Devils
Kennard standing beyond the arc, just waiting for passes from Russ is almost too perfect. Kennard is not ultra-athletic, he is not a great defender, he is a just a good basketball player. Sometimes you need to throw out measurables and just look at a player’s performance. I see someone who wants to play when I watch Kennard and I think that would pair well with Russ.
23. Brooklyn Nets (via Celtics)
Thomas Bryant, F, Indiana Hoosiers
Bryant has tried to add more to his game. We see an increase in 3-point attempts, more trying to force the issue down low, but you still see heart on the floor. Bryant can attack the rim, back down his defender, and try on every play. The Nets will not get a franchise changer here, but Bryant can be a long time piece in the NBA.
Rodions Kurucs, F, Latvia
Draft-and-stash. Kurucs has not received a lot playing time, but he can develop into a great shooter, which is something the Raptors need. Maybe it is the K in the name and being an international player, but I can see Kurucs being like Toni Kukoc. Kurucs just needs to start growing the goatee.
25. Utah Jazz
Dwayne Bacon, F, Florida State Seminoles
Bacon is a small 3, but the kid can ball. Averaging 17.1 PPG, shooting 45% from the field, and an improving three point shot; Bacon could be a great sixth man for the Jazz. A team that if they can re-sign Hayward can be a threat for years to come in the West.
Jaron Blossogame, F, Clemson Tigers
Blossogame has struggled this year from three, but we have seen him be effective from deep. Blossogame could bring scoring off the bench for the Raptors and with Terrance Ross being a free agent in 2019, I feel this can be a perfect transition for We the North.
27. Portland Trail Blazers (via Cavaliers)
Edmond Sumner, G, Xavier Musketeers
Sumner’s age and 3-point percentage gives me worries, but his talent is undeniable. I think this fit of playing behind and with Dame and C.J. could be something beneficial for Sumner. Sumner has a lot of size to him and could be nice change of pace compared to the existing guards in Portland.
28. Houston Rockets
Grayson Allen, G, Duke Blue Devils
He won’t be here next Mock Draft. I mocking Allen here, if he gets his act together both play wise and attitude wise. We have not seen any outbursts since he has been suspended by Coach K, but that goes for his temperament and his actual play. If Allen leads Duke to a great 2nd half of the season, then Allen will be a first round, but if he struggles then he will be regretting his decision about not coming out last year.
Josh Hart, G, Villanova Wildcats
I think I mocked this same exact pick last year. Josh Hart screams Spurs pick. I think Hart can be very similar to Malcom Brogdon of last year, a player that can have an immediate impact for his team. Hart is a leader and with Ginobili and Parker aging, Hart can step into a big role immediately.
30. Utah Jazz (via Warriors)
Isaiah Hartstein, F, Germany
I don’t know a ton about Hartstein, since it is more difficult to watch international players compared to NCAA kids, but from what I have seen, I think he will be much higher on my Mock 2.0. He is playing very little overseas like Frank Ntilikina, so his tape is limited, but he is very athletic. A player that seems to be able to get by with his athleticism seems perfect for a draft-and-stash candidate.